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Contest to measure energy use in dorms

Irena Zajickova | Tuesday, November 3, 2009

As part of an ongoing effort to make the University of Notre Dame more eco-friendly, the Office of Sustainability and student government are hosting a Dorm Energy Competition, which kicked off yesterday and will continue through Nov. 30.

The competition will measure each residence hall’s energy use and determine which dorm saved the most based on figures from the past five years. Hot water consumption will not be included in the measurements.

Patrick McCormick, a student intern at the Office of Sustainability, said there are many ways students can pitch in to help their dorms save energy, including simple actions such as turning off lights when leavingthe room and unplugging electronics that aren’t being used.

McCormick also emphasized the community aspect of the competition, and said the contest will be used to promote the idea of everyone at Notre Dame coming together to save energy.

“Our hope this year is to try to use the Dorm Energy Competition as a way of emphasizing that acts of sustainability are acts of solidarity,” McCormick said. “It’s is an invitation to the entire Notre Dame community to renew our campus and work towards the common good of all.”

Going along with this idea, the theme for this year’s contest is “Save Energy, Save Lives.” McCormick said the theme is meant to stress the interdependence involved in saving energy, since overconsumption can lead to climate change that effects people in other countries, not just in the United States.

“We now know that our consumption habits affect peoples’ lives around the world not just tomorrow, but today,” McCormick said.

This year, the Office of Sustainability will donate the savings from the winning dorm to the Global Water Initiative, a year-long social justice effort developed by student body president and vice president Grant Schmidt and Cynthia Weber that will raise money to help provide people in developing countries with clean drinking water.

Rachel Roseberry, a co-director of the Initiative, said the initiative is so important because of the number of people in the world who are without clean drinking water.

“A lot of people don’t have access to clean drinking water,” Roseberry said. “Actually, one in six people don’t have access to clean drinking water around the world, so we think this is a pretty big issue that people should be aware of.”

During last year’s dorm energy contest, the winning dorm saved roughly four thousand dollars, and Roseberry said a donation of that size would be a big help for the initiative, which donates all of the money it earns to the The Water Project — a nonprofit organization that digs wells in Africa to provide water for people in need.

Roseberry also said the dorm energy contest connects well to the Global Water Initiative because of the contest’s focus on using the idea of sustainability to save lives.

“We think the Office of Sustainability has been a really great resource and office on campus and their mission of sustainability ties in really well with our mission of educating people on campus about the need for water,” Roseberry said. “We’re saving money here on campus but we’re also using that money to save lives because we’re bringing water to parts of Africa through the wells that we drill.”